The last few weeks, months actually, have been hard on my family. The fear that I was about to battle cancer again weighed heavily on everyone’s mind – my daughter the most. She’s a strong girl, but I saw these ovarian tumors sitting there, staring her down, and trying to make her break. I received more hugs and “I love you’s” in the weeks leading up to my surgery. She was scared, but was trying to hold it together for me.
I could imagine the things that went through her head; after all, I was that kid once. I watched my mom battle through both breast and endometrial cancers while I was still in school. I was afraid for her. How sick would she get? Will it take her life? Is she able to help with my homework, take me to my soccer games, and attend those school functions? Will she be happy or miserable? The list could go on.
I can, without a doubt, put on my daughter’s shoes and walk a mile in them. I’ve been there, done that. However, seeing my daughter’s demeanor change in a split second was still difficult to watch. Ever little “ouch” that I said was thought to be something majorly wrong. Every new doctor’s appointment was thought to be a turn in my cancer journey. How does one overcome the anxieties and fears that come with cancer?
After a few weeks of added anxiety from my daughter and nightmares that followed, I asked a friend her thoughts. As someone with a mental health background, she asked what I say when my daughter comes to me with her concerns. I sympathize with her. I tell her that currently, I am healthy. There are no guarantees in life, and that we just need to live in the moment. What may pop up in the future will be dealt with at that time. I was pleased to hear that I was on the right track.
Have my responses to my daughter helped? At that time, they did. I realize it will take time for her to work through her feelings, just like it did when I had to work through mine. Just like healing the body, it will take the added time to heal the mind. I wish I could give her those magic words to take every bad thought away, but I can’t.
Sitting here today, watching my daughter sleep off the stomach bug, I am reminded that I am afraid for her. This fear is a two-way street. As we each are afraid of hurting each other – emotionally and physically – we’re afraid of cancer. Cancer can come back at any time. Cancer can attack others that we love. Cancer can be present in my daughter’s future. Cancer can hide itself until it’s too late. It’s not just my daughter’s fear that I won’t be here to see her grow into a beautiful soul I know she already is, but it’s my fear too. All I can do is sit back and encourage the positive thinking, live in the moment, and enjoy the time we do have.
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